That didn't take long. Only a few weeks after Apple's iBooks Author app debuted, template publisher Jumsoft began shipping Book Palette (US$2.99), a collection of ten professionally designed templates for iBooks Author.
I had an opportunity to try Book Palette, which is packaged as a Mac app. Once installed from the Mac App Store and launched, the app displays ten textbook templates. To start using a template, you can either select it and click the Open in iBooks Author button, or just double-click the template. In either case, iBooks Author launches and the template opens right up.
If you've modified your own iBooks Author templates before, they're saved in the /Application Support/iBooks Author/Templates/My Templates folder. You can choose to save the templates into that folder so that they appear with all of the rest of the standard templates in the template chooser.
Like the other templates that are included with iBooks Author, Jumsoft provides layouts for textbooks only -- remember, that's the focus for iBooks Author at this point at this point in time. The templates include Biology, Cookery, Decision Making, Dental Hygiene, Environmental Design, Interior Design, IT Strategy, Managing Change, Psychology, and Team Building.
All of the templates include the standard iBooks Author attributes, including a title page, a place for introductory media, a table of contents, and a glossary. The templates also follows the Chapter / Section format of the Apple-provided templates, and pages in a variety of layouts (one, two or three columns, and blank).
Of all the templates, I thought that Cookery was probably the most unique and least like a textbook template, but I now fear of a future of poorly written and self-published cookbooks that all look identical.
On the other hand, the Biology and Dental Hygiene templates uses the Chalkduster font for call-outs, an unfortunate design decision that can be fixed by simply changing the font in those areas where it shows up. I also found the use of Didot Italic as the standard text font in the Interior Design template to be a nightmare, as it's hard to read a lot of text in such a flowery font. Most of the other templates were well-designed and very readable, and wouldn't require much (if any) change to create good-looking electronic texts.
Jumsoft plans to release additional templates as app upgrades in the future, so book designers will have plenty of base templates to start with. For those who are currently beginning to work with iBooks Author, Book Palette is an inexpensive way to add to the paltry selection of six templates provided by Apple.